|> My question is what could cause this to happen, and how can I prevent something|
> like this in the future...
Many failures are manufacturing defects. Manufacturing defects can finally cause a failure even years later. Ie those counterfeit electrolytic capacitors that failed months or years later.
Most want to blame it on something immediate. So urban myth purveyors speculate surges. If a surge did that damage, then how many other appliances also failed during that microsecond event?
Some will blame low voltages again on speculation. Incandescent bulbs can dim to less than 50% intensity. That is normal voltage for all electronics. Utility must cut power long before voltage stays that low. Because low voltage is harmful to motorized appliances - not to electronics. Either the appliance works perfectly normal. Or it powers off normally. No damage.
Infant mortality is when manufacturing defects most often cause failures. But such defects can cause failures even years later.
Little can avert a manufacturing defect. However one excellent tool to find some manufacturing defects is heat. Electronics in a 100 degree F room can fail. Later, as that defect gets worse, the same appliance fails at 70 degrees. Heat is a fabulous diagnostic tool to find defective electronics before the warranty expires. 100 degrees F is normal temperature for all consumer electronics.
Considering the number of possible reasons for failure, it is amazing that any electronic device works more than a month.